I get woken up at about quarter to seven in the morning as the nurse comes in and she starts to wake us up. The lab tech comes in just after that and then takes a bunch more blood samples from Taylor and then we’re pretty much left alone until twenty minutes after that when everyone shows up. Grams, Gramps, Dad, Angie and Hunter, Holly and Tim and the kids as well as Njinda and her Mom with Davey, Billy lands in with Kendal? And there’s even Dallas there with some guy too. Taylor looks overwhelmed by it and I think he might have been moved to tears by all the people that’ve showed up to support him. Not just my side of things but the people that I’ve met through him.
I kiss him and run my fingers through his hair enjoying the sensation while I can. I kiss him a lot despite everyone being there. “Wow, y’know we’ve got a bigger family than I thought.”
He looks at me then just slowly all around us like he’s taking it all in. there’s a bit of a smile on his face after that. “Yeah, I guess you’re right hon.”
We just be ourselves, I know it doesn’t sound like a lot but it is a bigger thing than most people think about. We talk and do the family thing when they come for him around eight, there’s rounds and rounds of kisses and hugs and Taylor and I leave with the orderlies. We go and they say where we’re needed to be. And we head back down to medical imaging for the final headshots in the CAT scan and the MRI machines.
Doctor Clarke and Dr. Hendricks are both there going over everything with a first hand eye seeing everything there is to see for what they want and there’s another two Doctors there as well and there’s a stream of medical jargon being used.
Tay’s freaking out quite a bit and even the mild tranquilizer that they gave him isn’t helping him much. I’m talking him down or trying too and I threaten to paint his toe nails again. That helps. He gets embarrassed at me even bringing it up.
“Y’know honey I think that you’d look really cute of I did then in purple this time.”
“Hmm? Of I’ve got this really cute shade that’s purple pearl.”
“Jenna, no you’re not doing that again.”
“Do what?” Doctor Hendricks asked looking over our way.
“Oh I though I’d paint Taylor’s toes while he’s captive in the beauty doughnut.”
She chuckles. “What colors?”
“Oh I was thinking of doing them in either passion pink, or purple pearl.”
He growls. “Jenna…I know where you live.”
Dr. Hendricks coos. “She knows where you sleep.”
Taylor huffs at her. “Doc, I’m a cook. Do you know what I can do to your food?”
And it kind of goes like that for awhile making this kind of gallows styled humour in the face of the operation. Once the scans are complete we head off to the whole pre-surgery area where they get him to shower and they wash his hair after then they shave off his shoulder length golden locks. Aside from it being paler skin he actually looks not too bad with his head shaved. Then come out the markers and they start drawing lines on him and then all too soon he’s off to surgery.
One of the orderlies comes for me and Dad as well as Angie and he takes us up to the operating theatre. They get me close to the microphone so I can talk to him if they need me too. They’re not putting him under, he’s getting sedation but they’re not putting him under. They put head phones on him to listen to music while they cut open his head so he can’t hear the saw…It’s the biggest part of me not being able to watch. Dad’s there to hold me as I hug him and cry on him. I’m scared and more than freaking out. There are a few other times where I can’t watch as the bulkier, actual chunks of tumor are removed and taken from his head.
Its seven long hours that he’s in there with them in just the surgery alone. There’s Dr. Hendricks with this big machine that hangs over him like and x-ray machine’s camera head. She’s looking in some kind of visor thing and has these handset controls like a joystick and she’s controlling a robotic set of arms that are using different instruments that click into the hand areas like these tiny little knives and hooks and there’s even needles and a laser.
I knew there are real medical lasers, but somehow part of me had always thought of them as stuff on TV or in science fiction. The needle Angie tells me is the venom she thinks and the laser is being used both on small little cancer filaments as they find them and to cauterise where they need it.
Every thirty minutes she trades off with the other doctor called Dr. Cullins and they finish a task before letting the next one take his turn. Angie explains that they’re doing this to avoid fatigue and eye strain and from getting too tired. The whole micro-surgery thing is really stressful and very detail specific work and this is the safest way to do it all the while having Dr. Clarke and Dr. Long (the anaesthesiologist.) being look-outs for any trouble that might happen along the way.
God I’m all nerves through the entire thing. I’m more and more relieved as they close up and they use a bunch of stuff that I’ve got no idea to put him back together and then they dress him with stuff and bandages and replug him with new IV’s and then we’re off to post op.
I’ve got to get cleaned up and into some clean stuff if I want to be with him in Post Op. So I shower down with this pink smelly soap that’s kind of tingly on my skin then its scrubs a hair cap and booties and gloves. It’s a bit new to me but unless I want to wait for him in the waiting area instead of by his bed it’s this to keep infection from getting into the area.
I’m allowed my phone after it get’s a sprizt and a wipe with disinfectant and I net surf and watch some stuff online as he’s out of it. In truth I just spend most of that time holding his hand and watching him occasionally getting teared up.
We’re together, Me and Taylor and the thought of it still takes some getting used too. He’s such a beautiful guy, he’s not perfect but to me he’s just right. And there’s that am I just dreaming this quality to my life sometimes you know. When I started changing to become myself one of the things I had to deal with wasn’t just what had been done to me but the fact that because I was TG that I might very well spend my life alone and lonely.
I’m still amazed at the fact that he chose me. I’m still trying to believe that there were girls who dumped him and left him because he was sick. That gets me mad too if I think too long about that. If you say you love some one you done leave because they’re sick. I mean who does that?
It’s like this miracle that’s just mine and mine alone when I see his eyes open and then he looks at me and smiles. There’s all this tenderness there and love and he blinks those eyes at me and says.
“Hi back Handsome.”
He blinks at me again. “Handsome huh?”
“And you are?”
“I’m………You don’t know?”
“Sorry, I haven’t the foggiest…”
“Nice to meet you Taylor.”
“No…No...I’m Not Taylor you’re Taylor, I’m Jenna!” OhshitOhshitOhshit!!! “Doctor!?”
I get up to leave the little cubicle place were the bed is and I’m so panicking. I’m just about past the curtain when I hear the muffled laugh. I turn and he has his hand over his mouth to stop from laughing.
“You!” I yell, sort of quietly shout at him. “You fucker!”
He starts laughing at me. I go over and sit on the side of his bed; he’s got head trauma nothing else so I hit him a few times punching his shoulder. “Taylor Winters! That’s so not funny, you’re a jerk you know that! A jerk!” I’m crying a little I’m that mad at him.
“Jen…Jen.., Ow, Jenna cut it out.”
“I should hit you harder for that you ass.”
“I couldn’t help it, with the brain surgery thing it was too tempting to pass up.”
“You’re an ass!”
“Yeah but I paid you back for the toenail polish.”
“Asshole! I did that to help you!” I’m so exasperated right now but the grin, the smile on his face it’s hard to stay mad at him. Taylor pulls me down into a long deep passionate kiss.
“I’m sorry.” He murmurs as he kisses me.
“Jerk.” I murmur back around his kiss.
We’re kissing when Dr. Clarke and Dr. Hendricks came in the area and started to check him over and asked him if everything was okay. I stare at them then at him then kind of huff. “Oh I think he might actually have some brain damage.”
Dr. Hendricks looks at me. “What makes you think that?”
“He pretended not to know who I am, like he lost his memory from the operation.”
I frown at him, she frowns at him saying. “It’s not funny to lie about stuff like that, we could have ended up doing something to try and fix a problem that never existed Taylor.”
He’s still smiling and of course Dr. Clarke is chuckling along with him. “Classic, amnesia after brain surgery. I wish some of the other patients were that funny.” He says and actually shakes Taylor’s hand.
I stare at her and her at me then we both give Taylor and Dr. Clarke the stare and frown, and then nod at each other. “Men.” We both kind of growl out in that ticked off girl united thing. Then she looks at me. “Coffee?” I nod. “Sure, I could use a break from the comedy hour.” We leave heading off to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee.
We meet everyone just outside the post-op waiting room and tell them that we’ve going for a coffee and maybe something to eat. They ask how he is and I go over the whole practical joke thing. Dad and Gramps and Grams plus Hunter and Njinda don’t thing it’s funny and Angie and Holly think its really funny and so does Billy. The others are just glad that he seems to be doing better. Dr. Hendricks does smile at all of us.
“Taylor might be feeling an inflated sense of relief now that it’s all done and over with so he’s feeling a bit giddy maybe, the fact that he is able to joke about the entire thing is a good sign actually after all there was a lot of tumor tissue there and it had been applying a lot of pressure on his brain in places.”
Dad asks. “How much is a lot?”
“We weighted it in altogether at around five hundred and eighty grams.”
“Is that a lot?” I ask.
Dad nods and whistles. “That’s close to a pound honey.”
“A pound….Out of his head…Is he going to be okay?”
“Hopefully yes, I know it sounds like a lot but the tumor was quite spread out actually and we were lucky with a lot of it growing on the surface of his brain more than any other place. His bad migraines were most likely from the pressure between the tumor and his skull and it pushing pressure onto his brain.”
Angie nods and looks at her. “Were you able to get all of it?”
Dr. Hendricks nods. “We got every thing that we could see and that was a lot using the micro-surgery tools and then the venom we used was able to necrotize the areas that we thought would be hardest and most riskiest to attempt surgery to, then we flushed those areas and then used the fibre optic laser to finish things off.”
Dad asks. “I’m still not getting the venom thing.”
She nods. “It’s still experimental but we use small micro injections of venom much like the toxins in a rattlesnake that necrotizes the tissue when bitten. We directly inject these small amounts into the cancerous cells and let them work at poisoning the cancer tissue while we use the laser to cauterize the area connecting to the cancer grown to keep the toxic from spreading and it kills the cancer in a more organic way.”
“Won’t some of the toxins or the venom still get through?”
“Some, minor amounts really and we do flush and suction the dead cells away from the body instead of letting them just get absorbed by the body. If we were going to se a reaction it would have happened by now and we have an anti-venom dose ready.”
I nod. “So what’ll come after this?”
She smiles at us. “We wait a week, give him time to start healing and look at the other side effects that might come up, we do some tests after that and see if we either have to go with radiation or chemotherapy or to go ahead with the stem cell treatments but I’m really optimistic that things are going well.”
“So you’ve done this before? You’ve got an idea of what to look for?”
“Taylor’s my ninth patient with this technique so far.”
“And they’re all?”
“They’re all doing well.”
I look her in the eyes searching her just…and I can just sort of feel it. She knows what she’s doing. There’s no attitude like some doctors I’ve had to deal with. It’s this strange deep feeling that I’m getting from her. It’s like when you just know when someone is just…
I can almost see the need in her to make things better, to heal people in her eyes, even the way that she’s standing there and looking at me. It was a lot like when I first saw myself in the mirror it was just clear as daylight to me. Like knowing that my Dad was really my Dad just by looking at him, in his eyes.
I give her and handshake and a huge smile. “Thank you, thank you so much for the chance that you’ve given us and other people.”
She smiles and returns the handshake; it’s a really different thing an honest handshake between women. There’s a sort of power inherent in that respectful gesture or at least it feels like that to me. “It’s what I was meant to do, I lost my little girl April to a tumor nobody could treat when she was just six. Instead of just drowning in my guilt and grief over it I switched to this. I just couldn’t finish my training in peads.”
I can see the loss there and yet a source of strength there too. I can’t help but to hug her and she hugs me and there’s some tears there by the two of us and some of the others too. Then she dries her eyes. “I could use a coffee for sure now.”
I sniffle and nod. “Yes, I think that I could too. My treat.”
I take some orders for the rest of the family and then head down to the cafeteria that’s closer actually to a food court. There is the cafeteria’s food line but the eating area is more communal with a newsstand and a gift shop as well as a Tim Horton’s outlet and a subway sandwich shop….ugh…I hate their food. I get a Greek salad at the cafeteria well it’s make your own but mine has romaine, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and some onions as well as a lot of olives and crumbled feta cheese. I get a salmon sandwich to go with it and I get a bunch of coffee and doughnuts for everyone upstairs and three boxes of fries and chicken nuggets for Hunter and Holly’s kids.
Taylor’s chafing to get out of here. He’s been in the Hospital for five days now and he’s hating it more and more. But he’s been complication free and even his latest scans have been really, really good. He wants out of here but they’re starting him on his first round of the stem cells and he has to stay there another couple of days to see weather or not there’ll be any complications from that. The only thing that’s been keeping him sane is the fact that he’s been working on writing his recipes down on the laptop and I’ve been e-mailing him stuff from the office. That and playing chess or crib or another card game with Dad or Gramps.
It was hard not to stay there every night. I really wanted to do that. I miss him like crazy and sleeping alone really sucks, I’m not used to it anymore and I wear some of his things to bed every night. But there’s a point where life starts back up and everything. I go and see him every day slipping out just after the breakfast rush.
We had to open the diner back up, Holly and Nin need the money, and so do we. The wedding took a lot out of Taylors savings and stuff and I’ve actually don’t have a lot of money yet with the settlements from Dad’s lawsuits in my name not having come in yet.
I’m not holding my breath on that it’s getting money out of the government it doesn’t matter that it’s the province of Quebec or the Federal government they’ll still drag their butts if they have to pay out but if you owe them…yeah the stuff you pick up at work when you hear people complaining about the everyday stuff.
I’m actually the head cook for the diner now that Taylor’s in the hospital. I hired Dallas and Kendal too actually not her guy name that was Kent I think but I hire her since she’s staying at Billy’s place and while she says they haven’t had sex yet they are sleeping together. Apparently they hooked up and hung out at the wedding and they’ve got a lot of shared trauma experiences. It’s also a big help to her esteem that she’s got some work after so long of being without. She was living hand to mouth off of what was left of her unemployment benefits and her savings and each passing month it was draining her transition fund. I have to let her go home this weekend so she can pack up her things that she wants and stuff so she can move up here. But she’s getting paid for it because she’s going to several of the places of the other girls that’ve done up the new staff shirts and the menus and our flyers and posters and stuff that we sort of planned out while they were up here.
On the plus side making it a business trip lets us write a lot of the stuff off which makes it cheaper for us all the way around. Kendal’s over the moon about actually finally after thirty two years that she’s finally getting to start her life.
I’ve no idea if her family knows if she’s doing this or not. I’ve got her hooked up with Marley too who’s stopped by a few times and came out back to the kitchen to help out and we’ll talk, have a session there when I’m too busy to be able to think of anything that might be a barrier to what’s really going on in my head.
We talk a lot actually about the what if. Taylor really gets better, like long tern really better and if there’s a large part of our relationship based on our mutual traumas and what it’s going to mean or be like living together long term.
That and the fact that I’m getting ready for surgery to have my evil little buddies removed. I’m more than thrilled about it in one sense because that seems like it’s another huge step in the right direction for me but I’m afraid of what that’ll mean in our love life and how that’ll effect me sexually.
Yeah, lots of stuff going on.
I do a different menu. I make my cinnamon rolls and do all the regular stuff for breakfast but I added these huge pots and pans of chili, chowder, baked beans with franks, and pan after pan of homemade Mac and cheese. I get those hard paper coffee cups to put them in and add them to the take out orders. I do sandwiches but I do hams, our own take on pastrami, and roast beef but I also buy bulk from one of the “Girls” from the states a big order of cold cuts and stuff so I can do lots of cold cut sandwiches. That stuff arrived yesterday.
Lunch is more of the same only we do three soups. Tomato, A chicken soup of some kind and a mixed soup like minestrone there’s always vegetable soup or soup stock going and that very easily becomes something else. I actually love this, I love cooking and being creative and being in the kitchen and the customers and al the interaction.
Supper menu is usually pastas along with the soups, Shepherds pie with lamb in it because as my Gramps say shepherds didn’t really do the cattle thing so I’m making it authentic as possible. That leaves a lot of stuff to do with the other bits so I make Irish stew and even added stuff that I’d not normally have on the menu like Lamb shanks and Steak and Kidney pie and liver and onions. I even get in a few cases of Guinness in for those who want to try my take on UK food. We advertise it on our website and Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’m surprised at the number of UK ex-pats that showed up last night to try my attempts at it.
I even made Birds? Custard with an extra touch of sugar and vanilla and heavy cream then spun it through the ice cream maker and served it with home made rice pudding or a bread pudding I made. Surprisingly I like rice pudding. I though I’d hate it but it’s actually pretty good.
Yeah, I am so going to get my GED unless I can find a school that’ll let me finish my high school education without returning to high school, and then I want to take a chef’s course. I want to do this for a living. It’s very cool to actually know what you want to do with your life. Transition, get my education then get settled into my life then…who knows? Kids eventually?
So after talking with Marley and going to see my doctors a few times while Taylor’s in the hospital still I’m going in today to get that step done. I’m going actually under the knife this afternoon and I’m nervous and scared yet I really want this. Taylor’s going to meet me there and stay with me while I’m going through my post operative stuff.
I’d say here goes nothing but there are two little things going isn’t there.
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